Trembling Before Transformation
Orgasm. Deep grieving. Belly laughter. Muscle spasm.
The moment after each of these, we often feel a deep release and peace. They are all forms of vibration…holding on, letting go, holding on, letting go until we really let go. They are all bridges into the involuntary nervous system.
In Orgasm the physical body literally has a spasm through the musculature of the pelvic floor and the womb flutters. In deep grieving and belly laughter the diaphragm contracts and releases with rapid energy and breath. In muscle spasm the muscle contracts and releases and contracts until it surrenders and lengthens. We surrender to the trembling and our voluntary nervous system stops controling the process.
We can have a consciousnessgasm too! Just before our awareness expands we can feel disorientation. My whole life I thought it was hard to make money, wait I can make money? no it’s hard, no wait there are lots of successful passionate people….and then our reality surrenders and the beliefs expand.
What I’ve noticed in the last decade of supporting people through physical and spiritual transformation is that before the transformation there is a vibration. It may not feel good, transformation as much as we seek it does not always “feel” good while it’s happening. But then afterwards there is an expansion!
In the last six months I went to study with Peter Levine, international trauma healing expert and creator of “somatic experiencing.” I also trained with a group of dance therapists on healthy embodiment for trauma survivors. In both of these professional development settings the theme of vibration, trembling, shaking emerged.
Animals do not retain trauma in their systems. Ok, imagine we’re field mice and we gather for dinner. I’m not going to be sitting there petrified telling you, “wow, I almost died 3 times today there was a huge hawk overhead and he came swooping down and I think I’m never going out to the field again!” No, animals tremble and shake until the fear moves through their nervous system and they continue living. Somewhere in our great human evolution we interrupted this process.
So while I was at these trainings with trauma specialists I kept asking why don’t we shake each day and rinse out our nervous system?! Do we have to wait for a trauma? And they were intrigued. Now, this is not new in other cultures where drumming and shaking is a daily practice.
As a yoga teacher and dancer I’ve noticed that a lot of folks try stretching but they are still tight. Sometimes deep stretches actually make them more tight. Recently I saw a rolfer and she was surprised to hear that I’ve been dancing intensely for 30 years and have no injuries. I mean dancing 2-8, sometimes 12 hours a day, and no injuries. She let me know that most dancers and yogis she works on have a lot of chronic injuries and I started to wonder what my body learned and how I can share it with others.
Shaking! Every day I put on music and I shake and let it rattle my breath and recreate my body on a cellular level. Really deep shaking so that sounds come from my throat, the world around me becomes blurry, every part of my body is in motion. Then I localize the vibration and literally shimmey down my legs inside of the hamstring stretchs, IT stretches, inner thigh stretches…I tremble. I remember when I worked with Anodea Judith, a pioneer in chakra health, that energy can move more deeply through a vibrating leg than one with contracted muscles. Later when dancing with Egyptian Priestess, Leslie Zehr, the same theme came up.
So I have started to teach vibration inside of yoga poses. I’m reframing the goal, it’s not so focused on physical flexibility as much as charging the energy through a muscle and oxygenating the tissue. The muscle contracts, releases, contracts….and then transforms. In fact sometimes a really limber body has the hardest time finding this shaking. But the shaking actually repairs, heals, and strengthens our embodiment. It prepares us for what Peter Levine describes as trauma proofing. I would say it integrates the soul body into the physical body so we can live at ease and playfully in a present body.
I’m thrilled to be sharing this approach in my classes and private sessions. I’d love to hear about your experiences with this process too! What are you noticing in your bodies, with your clients, and students?